NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week


A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the real facts:

In this photo from early Friday, June 14, 2019, fans stand on a transit vehicle as thousands of fellow supporters celebrate in the streets of Toronto after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors during Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship. On Friday, June 21, The Associated Press reported on a photo from the event that was shared in online posts incorrectly asserting that it depicted Trump supporters outside his Tuesday night campaign rally in Orlando, Fla. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press via AP)

CLAIM: A photo shows a street intersection in Orlando shut down because of overflow crowds celebrating President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign launch Tuesday.

THE FACTS: A photo described in Facebook posts as showing scores of Trump’s supporters gathered outside his Tuesday night campaign rally in Orlando was actually taken a week ago in Toronto. The photo shows thousands of people — many of them wearing Raptors red — crowded in a street intersection at night. The image actually captured a throng of revelers at Yonge Dundas Square, at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas in Toronto, after the Toronto Raptors clinched the NBA title on June 13. The image also is consistent with aerial photos and video that local media captured of Toronto fans that night. Large crowds, including supporters and protesters, also gathered outside Trump’s rally at Orlando’s Amway Center on Tuesday.


FILE – In this Sunday, June 9, 2019, file photo, a man carrying a child watches Mount Sinabung spew volcanic material into the air during an eruption, in Kabanjahe, North Sumatra, Indonesia. On Friday, June 14, 2019, The Associated Press reported on an educational simulation video made with 3D technology seven years ago that recent online posts have incorrectly identified as footage from the eruption. (AP Photo)

CLAIM: Video shows Mount Sinabung eruption on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia on June 9.

THE FACTS: Mount Sinabung did erupt on June 9, but the video being shared does not show that eruption. The video is an educational simulation made with 3D technology and uploaded to Vimeo by Brandspank, a communications agency based in Auckland, New Zealand, seven years ago. The simulation has been used as part of the Auckland Museum Volcanoes Gallery to show what an eruption would look in Auckland. The video simulation shows volcanic ash coming up out of the ocean before coming toward the shore. The camera then goes black, and when the smoke clears, destruction and ash are everywhere. The Auckland War Memorial Museum also shared the video on its YouTube page in 2017 with the label, “Auckland Museum Volcanic Eruption.” On June 9, Mount Sinabung sent a plume of smoke and ash into the sky when it erupted in the province of North Sumatra. The ash column was measured at 7 km (4 miles) high. The volcano began erupting in 2010 after being dormant for 400 years. Mount Sinabung is one of Indonesia’s 120 active volcanoes.


CLAIM: The Trump administration places a ban on student visas for Nigerians until further notice.

THE FACTS: There is no such ban. Media outlets based in Africa began publishing inaccurate reports over the weekend that President Donald Trump had banned Nigerians from coming to the U.S. to study. The stories were shared on Facebook and Twitter. The U.S. Mission in Nigeria debunked the claim on Twitter on Monday in what it called a #FakeNewsAlert. “Be advised, reports of Student Visa ban for Nigerians is false,” they tweeted. “If you have seen such manufactured item on Facebook and Twitter or received it via WhatsApp, please communicate that it is false.” The Associated Press reported in April that top Trump administration officials were considering increasing pressure on countries with a high number of citizens overstaying their short-term visas in the U.S. In 2018, Nigeria was one of the countries listed in the top 10 for all overstays, according to the AP.


CLAIM: Marriage certificate proves Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was legally married to two men at the same time.

THE FACTS: Facebook posts are circulating a copy of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 2009 marriage certificate and falsely claiming the Minnesota congresswoman was legally married to two men at once. Questions about Omar’s marriages were revived online following a report from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board that revealed she had filed joint tax returns with her second husband in 2014 and 2015, before they were married. Omar applied for a marriage license on Sept. 30, 2002, to wed her current husband, Ahmed Abdisalan Hirsi, who she says at the time went by Ahmed Abdisalan Aden. The marriage was not legally finalized but the couple had two children together before ending their relationship in 2008. Later, Omar married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi on Feb. 12, 2009, according to a Hennepin County, Minnesota, marriage certificate. Omar told The Associated Press in an interview last year that her relationship with Elmi ended in 2011 but she did not filed for a divorce until six years later and the marriage was dissolved on Dec. 4, 2017, according to court records. Meanwhile, Hirisi and Omar had reunited, welcoming a third child in June 2012. Hirsi and Omar were legally married in Hennepin County on Jan. 5, 2018, records show. Conservative bloggers have made claims about Omar’s marriages, including that she was married to two men simultaneously, since she became a state representative in 2016. Omar was the first Somali-American woman elected to Congress last November.


CLAIM: Photograph shows a foot-wide Japanese Giant Emperor Moth.

THE FACTS: A 12-inch Japanese Giant Emperor Moth does not exist, despite an image circulating on Facebook that claims to show one. The inaccurate Facebook posts use a photograph taken of an artist’s fiber sculpture of a large moth that has a furry thorax — or body — surrounded by four wings, each with a circle as well as brown, red and orange markings. The artist, Yumi Okita, originally posted the image to her page on the craft website Etsy. Okita has crafted a “darned nice” replica of the Polythysana cinerascens, a moth species that hails from Chile, said Jeff Smith, a curator at the Bohart Museum of Entomology in California. Those moths generally have a three-inch wingspan, Smith said. Much bigger moths do exist — for example, Atlas moths, which feature mostly orange markings, can reach wingspans of nearly 12 inches, Smith said. “Insects are woefully misunderstood so, therefore, it makes it easy to deceive people,” he said.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email